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The Importance of Filing a Texas Divorce First

A lot of spouses who are going through divorce are concerned about who should file the divorce case first. This is because they think that the course of the case might not be favorable to them if the other spouse beats them in filing first. Generally, this does not apply when divorce lawyers are representing both of the spouses. The party who is able to file first the divorce petition is Texas is called the Petitioner. The other spouse is called the Respondent. The significance of filing first are discussed below.


Some of the benefits of filing first with regard to location are the following:

  • Petitioner gets to choose where to file the case;
  • The petitioner may file the case in the county of residence of either spouse provided that all residence requirements are met;
  • Whoever files first can file the case in the county of his residence if both parties live in different ones to ensure that the location of courthouse will convenient for him/her.

Initial Filing Fee Payment

Paying the Initial Filing Fee may be considered a downside for the petitioner. This is an advantage for the respondent because they can file their an answer which will cost them about nothing to a couple of dollars.

  • The initial filing fee is approximately $300 to $400;
  • The respondent can countersue for divorce by filing a counterpetition which will cost only about  $50 to $100. 
  • The one who files first generally pays more.

Timing and Relief Requested

When a person files for divorce first, it gives them the advantage with regard to the issues covered at the Temporary Orders hearing. The petitioner can request a hearing for Temporary Orders in the Original Petition for Divorce. The orders will set the following:

  • How the parties will and should behave during the pendency of the divorce;
  • The visitation set up for the children;
  • Child conservatorship;
  • Child and temporary spousal support;
  • Who will remain in the marital home during the pendency of the case;
  • Who will shoulder certain bills through the course of the proceedings;

Establishment of the Course of the Divorce

Whoever files first establishes how the course of the divorce will be by choosing whether to plead fault or no fault in the divorce. Nevertheless, this can be changed because pleadings can be amended by either party.

A lot of times, the parties have fault grounds but would attempt to at least resolve things amicably at first through mediation. If amicably resolving through mediation does not work, the spouses will reevaluate the circumstances and choose whether to amend the pleadings and plead for fault.

Prevention of Hiding of Assets 

Prior to the filing of divorce, both spouses can do whatever they wish to do and this includes hiding some assets. Being the petitioner may also prevent the respondent-spouse from hiding assets because when filing first gives the ability to ask for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which is an order that prohibits certain actions the respondent-spouse can possibly do such as hiding assets among others.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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